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Pasta for Nightingales: A 17th-Century Handbook of Bird-Care and Folklore (Hardcover)
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The first-ever English translation of a seventeenth-century ornithology text, complete with historic watercolor illustrations
This beautifully illustrated book brings together the newly commissioned, first-ever English translation of one of the earliest studies in ornithology with the original watercolors, now part of the British Royal Collection, that provided the inspiration for its engraved illustrations. The watercolors, created for the “Paper Museum” of the seventeenth-century scholar and art collector Cassiano dal Pozzo, are here combined with the translated text of amateur naturalist Pietro Olina’s original Uccelliera of 1622 to create a new work that provides a fascinating glimpse of ornithology’s earliest days—a period when folklore informed natural history studies as much as science did.
With meditations on the “epileptic” robin redbreast and a recipe for chickpea pasta meant to satisfy a nightingale and keep it in song, this work is an enchanting re-presentation of natural history literature. Retaining the character of Olina’s original design, this unique book describes over forty much-loved species, and is sure to please bird watchers, naturalists, and antiquarian book lovers alike.
About the Author
Cassiano dal Pozzo was a Roman art patron, and his seventeenth-century Museo Cartaceo housed hundreds of scientific drawings. Pietro Olina was an amateur naturalist and author of one of the earliest ornithology books. Translator Kate Clayton graduated from Oxford and studied for a postgraduate diploma in translation at Westminster University. She lives in London. Helen Macdonald is a writer and naturalist and author of H Is for Hawk.
“A charming 17th-century Italian treatise now presented in English. . . . Cassiano dal Pozzo [commissioned the text and] illustrations that appear here, beautiful and precise watercolors showing birds selected for their availability and their tolerance of captivity: buntings, starlings, kingfishers and, yes, nightingales. Text and drawing together take us to the dawn of ornithology.”—Simon Barnes, Wall Street Journal
“[A] handsome new edition [combining] a 1622 treatise on songbird cultivation by the naturalist Giovanni Pietro Olina with the original colored drawings, by artist Vincenzo Leonardi, that inspired Olina’s accompanying illustrations.”—Adrian Higgins, Washington Post
“[A] handsome volume [and] the season’s most endearingly eccentric offering.”—Dominique Browning, New York Times Book Review
“A charming Renaissance collection of birdlore and beauty.”—Danny Heitman, Weekly Standard
“Pasta for Nightingales brings together exquisite bird portraits from the 17th century and avicultural information assembled by Italian naturalist Giovanni Pietro Olina, circa 1622. . . . Remarkable insights are scattered throughout [this] engaging historical snapshot of 17th-century ornithology and aviculture.”—Choice
“A superlative intersection of original artwork, translative skill, and book history that brings seventeenth-century European ornithology and natural history into sharp and elegant focus.”—Daniel Lewis, Chief Curator of Manuscripts, The Huntington Library